Burberry autumn 16
Last week Burberry’s chief creative and commercial officer Christopher Bailey sent shock waves through the industry with the announcement that the brand would make its catwalk shows ‘direct to consumer’, delaying its show to the actual day new product drops into stores.
In other words, Burberry will stop creating huge, expensive catwalk shows early in the season meant just for buyers and press and instead shift the focus onto catwalk shows later in the season meant for actual shoppers, presenting clothes that are available to buy that day.
If other brands follow Burberry and ditch traditional fashion weeks (as labels like Tom Ford, Vetements and Tommy Hilfiger already have), this will mean a drastic reorganisation or even abandonment of the fashion week system. So yes, that’s a big deal, for fashion week at least.
However, as Bailey has said in interviews, Burberry collections will still be made early and will be shown to wholesale accounts and buyers in a private and “embargoed” way (it was these private trade-facing catwalks that grew into the spectacle now known as fashion week). Some months later a big fanfare will be made, a catwalk event will happen and clothes will arrive in store straight away, hopefully converting all the hype of a catwalk show into sales there and then.
It will be interesting to see how other brands deal with this shift and what issues this might cause to supply chains and stock logistics, but thinking of it just as presenting your clothes to the public at a later date isn’t too radical. Only time will tell if the hype of a later, consumer-facing catwalk show will actually convert into more sales though.